Sunday, March 26, 2017

Two Twenty-First Century Women Consider Annunciation

I have never had trouble falling asleep, but I do have problems staying asleep, and some weeks I consider myself lucky if I'm still sleeping past 3 a.m.  This past week was one of those weeks.

I don't spend too much time wondering why I'm awake or trying to force myself to fall back asleep.  I'm lucky in that I can function even with if I wake up extremely early.  Yesterday, I woke up around 1:30, and by 2:00, I got up and did some writing.

At 4:00, I thought I might fall back asleep, so back to bed I went.  It was a windy night, part of why I had trouble sleeping.  I watched the wind whip the palm fronds to and fro, and I thought of angel wings and the feast day of the Annunciation, which was yesterday.  Later in the day, I took a picture of the tree that inspired the poem that came to me:

Look at the two browner fronds at the bottom, closest to the trunk--don't they look like a pair of wings?

A poem came to me, and my hip started to ache, and I knew that sleep would not be coming.  I wrote this poem:

In the early hours of this feast
day of the Annunciation, I listen
for God’s invitation, but all I hear
is the roar of a motorcycle speeding
away after last call.  The rustle
of the palm fronds in the wind,
the only angel wings today,
as I lay enfolded in the arms
of my beloved of thirty years.

As I wrote the poem, I thought about Beth Adams and the book on the Annunciation that she put together.  I decided to send her an e-mail with the poem.  My e-mail ended this way:  "I don't like it [the poem] as much as the one I wrote for your collection, but as I wrote it, I thought of you and all the various approaches to the Annunciation, so I thought I'd share it with you.  Wishing you many blessings on this feast day!"

She wrote back to tell me that she was touched by my sending the poem to her, and she wrote a bit about Mary, about the way that the Virgin Mary was more present in Mexico City, from where she had just returned from a yearly sojourn.  She talked about the little shrines to the Virgin that she saw in Mexico and that she had once seen in the countryside of Quebec, but didn't anymore.  I thought about some of the shrines that I've seen here in people's yards, something that I never saw in other parts of the U.S. South where I've lived.

Later in the day, Beth sent me a meditation that she'd sent to the group doing a quiet retreat at the Cathedral where she worships.  She included my poem, which, along with the rest of her writing, moved me deeply.  In both her e-mail to me and her meditation that she sent to the participants, she talks about finding the presence of God in the ordinariness of life.  And she perceived my intention with the use of the word Beloved, that it can mean a human who holds us, but it also means the larger God who always enfolds us in love and grace, freely given.

I spent some time with her meditation and some time thinking about Mary and my relationship with her.  When I was in college in the 80's, the issue of Mary made me angry, like the patriarchal church thought it had done its job by venerating Mary, and now it could go on celebrating the maleness that it wanted to focus upon.  But in my later years, I see so many more nuances, both negative and positive.

It was a wonderful way to spend a feast day:  early morning meditation/writing time, corresponding with a friend, exchanging more ideas, and inspiring each other.  I feel so lucky to live in this time where technology enables all of this to happen in close to real time, so that this nourishment occurs on the actual feast day, not as we exchange letters through the paper mail system.

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